Forum: May-June 2007

June 1, 2007
surgery being performed in the hyperbaric chamber

Swooping In

I generally set my Duke Magazine aside for some future date to read, and it eventually migrates to the recycling bin. The January-February story on "Helicopter Parents" caught my attention—initially via e-mail with that engaging cover drawing—and I read it with interest. The article was right on target for us as a family with kids in high school and one college grad. It put in perspective how much the parenting of college-bound and college-age school kids has changed since I went through the process.

I went on to read the rest of the magazine and found lots there, starting with that description of Paul Berliner excavating a whale skeleton on the beach and turning the experience into a musical life investigation ["Playing It Forward"]. It's quite likely the magazine has been so intriguing for years, but I really think it was that cover illustration that got me to discover it.

Cynthia Ward Welti '75, Bellevue, Washington


Poetic Geography

While any lover of poetry will applaud Professor Gopen for fostering the art of reading poetry aloud [Campus Observer, January-February 2007], one must doubt that the misinformation that Elizabeth Bishop was a Midwesterner came from him. Only a very little homework will disclose to the author of "Poetic Moments" that Ms. Bishop was born in Massachusetts, was raised and educated in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and in New England, and lived much of her life in Key West and Brazil.

Lucia Walton Robinson A.M. '60, Niceville, Florida


For the Record

There were many items of interest in the latest magazine, but what particularly caught my eye was the report on the renovation of Branson Auditorium and the renaming to honor benefactor Harold Brody [Gazette, January-February 2007]. Branson certainly needed renovation when I was there in the late '60s; I remember having to turn the heat off during performances so that the actors didn't have to compete with clanking radiators circling the audience. Bravo to Brody and many thanks for his generosity.

What puzzles me, however, is the statement that Brody was an active member of the Duke Players. I was also a member of the Class of '70 and a member of the Players from January 1967 until I finished my coursework in January 1970. I also served as president of the Players my junior year, and I'm afraid I have no memory whatsoever of Harold as a Player.

I wonder if he was instead a member of Hoof 'N' Horn, which annually produced a musical during Joe College weekend. The mistake would be ironic, since Hoof 'N' Horn had much more cachet at that time than the Players; they were able to fill Page Auditorium, while the Players were relegated to Branson because our audiences were so puny.

Jamme Hilder Coy '70, Ashland, Virginia

Brody indeed was a member of Hoof 'N' Horn, not Duke Players.


Thank you so much for providing the photograph captioned "Under Pressure" in the January-February 2007 issue [In Focus]. It would be very kind of you to provide identifying information for the engineer who is seated in the photograph, especially since he is a Duke alumnus who has dedicated his life work to the Duke hyperbaric chamber. (He is Mike Natoli B.S.E. '84, M.S.E. '91.)

I hope that you will do an article in the future to highlight some of the medical research which has been done in the Duke hyperbaric chamber. I believe it would be fascinating for your readers. When I left my position at Duke Medical Center, we had just started to learn some of the therapeutic uses of hyperbaric therapy. We are very lucky to have the chamber and its committed staff at Duke.

Lynne Russell Brophy B.S.N. '84, Loveland, Ohio


Managing Pain

I enjoyed Barry Yeoman's article, "Raising the Threshold of Pain Research," in the November-December 2006 issue. However, I have concerns about some items in the article.

First, "opioids carry almost no risk of addiction when used as prescribed." As the medical director of an addiction clinic, I daily see the unfortunate results of individuals who began taking opioids "as prescribed" and became addicted. One of the components of a diagnosis of addiction to opioids is the inability to take opioids as prescribed.

The statement "There will be some chance of giving these drugs to fakers and liars" is correct, but this minimizes the problem of illicit opioid use in this country (and worldwide). My clinic has documented that some of our patients with addiction to opioid pain pills obtained their pills illegally from elderly patients (with chronic pain or malignant conditions) who, routinely, sell some of the pain pills they obtain from their medical providers.

Finally, the case against Dr. William Hurwitz is more complex than implied in the article. In August 2006, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case for a new trial.

Pain management is complicated, as there is no reliable objective test for pain. Furthermore, the assumption that opioid pain medications are not addictive if used properly negates the lessons of the mid- to late nineteenth century, when thousands of American women and Civil War veterans suffered the perils of addiction to opioids because the medical profession was not fully aware of the potentially permanent brain-altering properties of opioids. Certainly, more research is needed to further understand the nature of pain and to improve its treatment. Considering the forces, illicit and licit, that drive the use of opioids, both medical providers and consumers should use caution in the use of these medications.

James Dorsey '70, M.D. '74, College Park, Maryland


Curious Conflating

Lewis Klein's letter about the conflation of Guantánamo residents and Japanese Americans in Relocation Centers (to use the legalistic term) is passing strange [Forum, November-December 2006].

First, Roosevelt did not need to sign the execrable executive order for propaganda purposes. The animus toward Japan and the Japanese could not have been more thorough. Some of it became generalized toward Japanese Americans whether native-born, i.e. citizens or aliens, and there were indeed instances of mindless prejudice. Was it as severe as prejudice toward blacks in the South before the civil-rights era? Probably not. Incidentally, there was never any sabotage, and a small number of Japanese deemed security risks were picked up early and either deported or imprisoned.

Second, despite the press campaign against Japanese Americans, there were few overt acts against them, perhaps equal to the number of expressions of personal sympathy. Certainly the camps were not established to provide protective custody. Nor were they designed for family life. I saw them.

The reader should consider some details: Hawaii had a Japanese-American population of about six digits. None were taken into protective custody, and the Hawaiian economy and war effort would have suffered without them. Many Japanese Americans enlisted while in the camps and formed the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a highly decorated unit. An analogous unit was established by Hawaiian volunteers. In the Pacific, Japanese Americans served in intelligence and as interpreters and translators.

It is now generally accepted that the evacuation was unjustified, that it impaired the war effort, and that it harmed loyal Americans.

Leonard Broom Ph.D. '37, Santa Barbara, California


Off-Center

It was with great amusement that I read the article on "Leftward Leanings" in academe [September-October 2006] and the many letters that followed. I would like to offer conservatives a simple solution to the preponderance of liberals on college campuses: Come join us. I have served on search committees at three universities for academic and administrative positions. I have never known the politics of those I was interviewing. Now granted, this may be obvious in some disciplines and with some scholarship, but typically, it is not.

I submit that the reason most universities are lacking conservatives is simple. They don't apply for academic jobs. Today's Neocons are more interested in the salaries and power available in the private sector, and in the influence they can have in government and think tanks. If conservatives want to make a difference on campus, I, for one, would welcome their viewpoint. But are they willing to accept an assistant professor's salary at a state university? Obviously, people like Horowitz are more interested in finger wagging than educating.

Rob Young Ph.D. '95 Webster, North Carolina
After reading in recent issues about "Leftward Leanings" at Duke, I was amused to see the term "B.C.E." used in describing the age of a Greek pendant [Gallery, January-February 2007]. B.C.E. is a modern litmus test of one's PC credentials. Just as the "N" word is taboo, the Christ word (as in B.C.) cannot be uttered, or even acknowledged in enlightened academia, lest one be struck dumb or lose tenure. However, it is intellectually dishonest (and quite silly) to pretend something didn't occur, then reluctantly acknowledge it by renaming it. Perhaps it could also be called "Before Candles Existed" or "Before College Exams."

If our "intellectuals" want to date things from a "Common Era," why not pick something really common as a starting point, like Paris Hilton's birthday? Let's see, it would be about the year 22 A.P.H.

Bob Anderson '55, The Villages, Florida

Says Eric Meyers, Lerner Professor of religion and director of the graduate program in religion: "B.C.E. means 'before the common era' and is a neutral way of referring to the manner in which much of the world dates historical events. 'A.D.' means 'year of the Lord,' an expression that ties world history to the birth of Jesus. Religious Jews date according to biblical chronology and the creation of the world; Muslims date before and after the prophet Mohammed."